Couplets of Liberty

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awhile from perusing the enlightened pages of Lew,
I was
resting on my couch and re-reading Volume VI of my 1809 edition
of Edward Gibbon's Decline
and Fall of the Roman Empire
, and had reached his final
lamentation on the oft-repeated follies of the Byzantine emperors,
when a dry, disembodied voice cut into my sensitive consciousness.
In cultivated tones, this aural phantom identified itself as the
author of the very book which lay open on my lap, and instructed
me to repair to my computer keyboard.

voice informed me that, impoverished in vocabulary as I was, nevertheless
I would just about do as a u2018channel' for a message, in rhyming couplets,
to the yearning libertarians of the modern American age.

risk of ridicule, I offer the resulting piece unedited.


fans of ancient history,
The moderns are no mystery,
Re-living, as in some mad dream,
Every dire dramatic theme
Done to death in Greece or Rome.
From our viewpoint here at home,
Their follies of ambitious power
Teach us wisdom hour by hour:
Teach us to be patient, kind,
Understanding, broad of mind.
This the ancient sages knew
(Well, at least a happy few).
Yet the peasants always sank
Under pressure from high rank.
Fleeting freedom soon gave way
To bloody kings who seized the day,
Imposed a peace awhile, and then
Found the fresh will to kill again.
Once a tyrant goes, the masses
Rule themselves a while like asses,
Then, when chaos gets too hot,
Here's the army like a shot.
Students of conspiracy
(Such as, maybe, you and me),
Surfing the web's outrageous pages,
Spot sticky plots in modern ages.
And, what is more, I say to you,
They all are absolutely true!
These neo-schemers go berserk:
u2018Freedom's a dream. It just won't work!'
Their flag of freedom is unfurled:
Freedom to rule a vanquished world.
And what of lovely Liberty?
O pilgrim's hope, land of the free,
America, thou dreaming soul,
Awake, and hasten to thy goal!

22, 2003

Langley [send him mail],
father of eight little libertarians, lives in England’s beautiful
Peak District, where he writes poetry and makes pottery ocarinas.


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